Keeping Geese

Keeping and looking after domestic geese: Information written from over 30 years experience in breeding exhibition pure breeds - essential facts if you have not kept a goose before. These points are the result of the most frequently asked questions about management as pets and in the garden.

What do I need to transport geese?
How often should I treat geese for worms?
What do geese eat?
Why do they need grit?
What do I do if they become ill?
How long will they live?
Should I let the goose sit?
Goose facts and photos of the breeds

Transporting Geese
Birds overheat very rapidly in cardboard boxes in cars in summer heat. They will die even more rapidly than dogs left in stationary cars. This is because of their feathers and the additional insulation of the box. Wire (weldmesh) containers or purpose-made poultry or pet-carriers are best. If cardboard boxes must be used, always cut plenty of air holes, or tie on a wire top to allow free passage of air. Store boxes in the shade, park the car in the shade, and load boxes only when ready to travel. Place the boxes on the shaded side of the car; do not put them in a sealed boot. Ventilate the car well, or use air-conditioning while travelling. Listen to the weather forecast before picking up birds in the summer months and avoid heat-wave conditions for travelling.
It is illegal to bind a bird's legs or wings, or to carry it in a sack. The bird should not be loose in the vehicle.
A bird distressed by heat should be put on water immediately on release.

Worming geese
Geese are relatively easy to keep except for one problem, which can be avoided quite easily. Both ducks and geese can get gizzard worm but geese are far more likely to suffer from its effects and die. So always worm geese when buying or selling them. Do make sure that this is not done twice. Gizzard worm is a common parasite and its incidence would be considerably reduced if more people took this precaution. Gape worm can be a problem where grazing geese are kept on over-stocked land with other poulty. Wormers include the following products.

Levamisole: this is no longer recommended due to resistance of the parasitic worms, especially gape worms.

Flubenvet is a multi-purpose wormer for waterfowl and poultry. It kills gizzard and gape worm, round worm, caecal worm and tape worm. The wormer is a white powder which adheres well to poultry pellets. The correct dose (given on the packaging for geese) must be fed for 7 consecutive days.

The advantage of using flubendozole, found in Flubenvet, is that it is easy to administer.
It can be used with goslings.
The disadvantage is that, with geese in particular, you do not know how much wormer they have consumed if they also graze.
It does not give an immediate result if they are ill.
Remember to read the information about withdrawal times on the product.
Flubenvet can be obtained from the vet, and from suppliers of poultry and game products.

Panacur was not originally licensed as a poultry wormer, but it was licensed for poultry in 2014. It is often used by vets for pet poultry. Panacur is obtainable through your vet or at agricultural stores as dog & cat wormer. It contains fenbendazole which kills the gizzard worm, but not its eggs. Two doses, spaced at 2 weeks are therefore needed to eradicate the pest. It is also less effective than flubenvet at killing worms in the windpipe (gapes). However:-
It is very useful for treating goslings immediately, at any age, if they become ill  and are not eating. Flubenvet on the food is of no use in this situation.
Note that the 10% Panacur solution for cattle or cat&dog should be used. [The 2.5% solution for sheep results in a four-fold dose being required and other ingredients may be added.]  It can be given as a drench (see above) or put on food if you watch that all the food is consumed.
Remember to read the information about withdrawal times on the product.

Ivermectin is also used as wormer for ornamental birds but is not licensed in the UK for food chain birds i.e. where the birds or their eggs eaten. It is very effective at killing external and internal parasites and is useful in obtaining a rapid result. Consult a vet for application and dosage.

Birds are unlikely to suffer from gizzard worm if treated when new to the premises and then fed well, or grazed at a low stocking density. However, it is always a good idea to worm a goose just after she has commenced to sit (and the gander) so that if she becomes ill, you then know that it is not worms which are causing the problem. Aim to worm the birds twice a year in total, and observe appropriate withdrawal times if affected products (eggs or meat) were intended for consumption.

Further info on worms in waterfowl and poultry in articles on the Smallholder website and at


Message date : Feb 29 2004, 07:06 AM
From : "greenfield"
Subject : help for day-old goslings
PLEASE HELP!. I have a pair of day-old goslings. Their mother is still brooding and refuses to help. Could you let me know how I can feed them and what I live in south India where geese are not quite so common. Can I give them broken rice/wheat and do they need a dry or wet feed? The mother still has 4 eggs to hatch; We lost 4 goslings earlier as we left them with the mother; These 2 were hatched yesterday and seem to be doing fine but they need to eat; Would appreciate a quick reply; I got your it from the net - Mallika;

When the goslings are to be with the mother, will they go out and eat grass? I think this may be the dry season and there is not a lot of green food?

Finely broken wheat will be better than rice - especially if the rice is polished rice. Use whole wheat. It does not matter if it is wet or dry, as long as the goslings have water to get to. Just see which way works best. The food keeps in better condition if dry. Do not allow moulds to develop in damp food, especially in the warmer temperatures where you are. Make sure that the goslings have access to grit for the gizzard, to break down the cereal and greens. Coarse sand is useful for this purpose.

Also make sure that the goslings cannot fall into the water container and drown. In the UK we feed greens like dandelion leaves, chopped grass, chopped tender cauliflower leaves, but not a lot of lettuce and cabbage. I would not use spinach The easy way here in the UK is to buy manufactured 'baby duck 'crumbs or goose starter crumbs. If the diet is restricted to dry cereals, add supplements like brewers yeast ( not bread yeast) for extra vitamins. It sounds as if the eggs may have been incubated by the goose at different times? It's best to get them all sat on as the same time so that they synchronise their hatching. Geese are sometimes poor mothers, and squash the goslings. You could try using a hen as a broody and foster mother, but hens do carry more external parasites (mites) than geese; so you would have to look after the hen carefully, with respect to parasite control (because these parasites will get on the goslings too)

Message date : Mar 04 2004, 05:28 AM
Re: help for day old goslings

Dear Christine,
Thanks ever so much for your advice. The goslings are doing fine. They are now 5 days old and very active. Will take you advice and switch to broken wheat. They have attached themselves to me as their surrogate mother and follow me around when we let them out on the lawn. We have just today made them a temporary run so that they can have a bit more exercise without the hawks and the crows going for them. I had put out a basin of water thinking they might just learn to swim but rushed out and removed it after reading your message. When will they take to water? Their parents are no help at all. Their mother is sitting beside the other goose who has 5 eggs under her and refuses to come out. We did try to introduce them to their fathers who got rather aggressive so have kept them away. We don't get specific duck feed in India. Tried chicken feed from a friend but they don't seem to like it. They are happy with the broken rice, semolina (which is made from wheat) and chopped coriander and lettuce. I am sure when they are old enough they will find what they can eat from the garden. But you are right we are going into the summer and everything is drying fast.
Thanks for your reply. Nice to hear that they are doing well. As long as they get carbohydrate plus greens I'm sure they will be fine. Coriander's a bit of a surprise though!

Chick food should be OK as a starter for the first 2 weeks, but they sometimes put additives in it to combat coccidiosis. Occasionally, people believe, this adversely affects waterfowl. However, people reared geese centuries ago just on greens - so I don't see why it should not be good enough now!

Get a broad-based water contained - eg a washing-up bowl - when they are big enough to get in and out of it. If you put a brick inside the water, it can act as a stepping stone to get out. At the moment, when they are really small, use a heavy pot casserole - as long as they can step out of it. It's narrow, deep containers where they can get stuck head-down.

Ganders can be good fathers - especially if they have Chinese or African in them, but occasionally they can be aggressive to goslings. I would try to get the goose off the nest if she has sat for more than 32 days. [They lose a lot of condition and it's difficult to start them eating properly again.] This would probably involve fencing her off in another area, with the ganders. If you have 2 geese on the nest when the next lot of eggs hatch, they are almost sure to squash the goslings

Note that all photographs and text on this website belong to
Chris & Mike Ashton. They should not be reproduced
without our permission i.e. they should not be used for
advertising or commercial purposes.
Please telephone 01938 554011 for availability of books or stock
We are in the UK near Shrewsbury on the border of England
and Wales.
We breed a limited quantity of pure breeds of domestic geese and Indian Runners, Abacot Rangers and Call ducks each year. We do not sell hatching eggs.